Man uses sheets to help wife escape fire

March 19, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A 73-year-old Pleasant Valley man tied bedsheets together to help his wife escape from their smoke-filled home early yesterday before he was rescued by a neighbor, authorities said.

Charles and Martha Kirkpatrick were not injured in the fire, which occurred about 12: 10 a.m. at their two-story wooden home at 1818 S. Pleasant Valley Road. A smoke detector awakened the couple, but thick, acrid smoke prevented them from going down the stairs to escape, fire officials said.

Mr. Kirkpatrick called 911 from the master bedroom and lowered his wife to a deck before Michael Gist, a neighbor who is an assistant chief of Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company, arrived from across the street to help.

"Mr. Kirkpatrick said the bedsheets were the only thing he could think of that was nearby and strong enough to lower his wife about 12 feet to the deck," said Chief William Wantz.

After getting his wife out, Mr. Kirkpatrick told officials he thought about jumping from the window, but instead directed Gist to a backyard shed to get a ladder to rescue him.

The early-morning rescue came a day after a Westminster woman was severely burned when she became trapped in her first-floor apartment during a fire. A hard-wired smoke detector failed to activate, fire marshals said.

Diane Baylus, 31, was burned over 60 percent of her body before firefighters could rescue her about 12: 30 a.m. Tuesday. She was in critical condition yesterday at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Baylus called 911 and talked to emergency dispatchers for about five minutes before being overcome by smoke and flames.

That fire was caused by a faulty heating and air-conditioning unit, fire marshals said.

About 30 volunteers from Pleasant Valley, Westminster, Taneytown and Littlestown, Pa., controlled the fire at the Kirkpatricks' home in 20 minutes. A faulty wall-mounted lamp was blamed for the blaze, fire marshals said.

Fire, smoke and water damage was estimated at $40,000, fire marshals said.

Wantz said the Kirkpatricks were staying with a neighbor. Attempts to reach them were unsuccessful.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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